Description: Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church, located at 801 W. Grand Ave. in Marshall, is one of the oldest African-American congregations in the county. It was established in 1867 during the Reconstruction period when so many newly-emancipated blacks left white churches to establish their own. Originally the name was simply the "Colored Baptist Church," which was the name on the deed. When the members elected to change the name, they identified it with the healing pool of Bethesda in Biblical Jerusalem. The word "Missionary" was added to its name in the mid-1980's to reflect denominational affiliation. In 1987 Bethesda began to join with the First Baptist Church in occasional worship services and fellowship. The two churches are historically linked because Rev. A. E. Clemmons, a pastor of the white First Baptist Church, and Rev. William Massey, a black religious leader, jointly led 450 souls in the founding of Bethesda. Massey went on to pastor other churches in Waco and Austin but later returned. Other prominent founders were David Abner, who was Harrison County treasurer, a member of the Texas House of Representatives in the Fourteenth Legislature, and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1875; and Andrew Gross, whose son Frederick became ...
Contributing Partner: Marshall Public Library